3 Principles That Drive Excellence

Excellence n. superiority; surpassing goodness; extremely high quality

As I work with, advice, and coach business and ministry leaders across the country, part of my role is to teach timeless principles of excellence.

Today I was led to share with you 3 principles that drive excellence in your work and your life.

Principle #1: Excellence is a prerequisite – not a goal.

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29

When excellence is a future goal, the journey can quickly become a mere hope, a dream, a someday event.  It opens the door for tired excuses (“We’ll get there one day”) while giving people an out for any lack of significant progress (“We’ll try harder”).

It is therefore imperative that excellence becomes the MINIMUM acceptable level of performance (a standard) today – not for some future date.

The key is to clarify your standards for a few key activities.  If the standards do not represent excellence as the minimum, then you are no different than your competitors, and you remained mired in survival mode.

Often the standard IS the goal! Standards of excellence are often a big step forward for you and your team. A primary focus of my consulting and coaching is simply to teach the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to reach the (excellence) standard.

Principle #2: Excellence is a habit – not an act.

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7

You just sat down in your dentist’s chair for your six month check-up.  As she approaches your mouth holding a razor-sharp, teeth cleaning instrument, she confides, “Yesterday I was really great – didn’t make a mistake all day.  Last night, though, was a bad night.  Up late, did not sleep well, and today I’m a little tired and shaky. Just not on my game today.”

What would you do?  Say nothing?  Pray?  Or would you leap out of the chair and reschedule the appointment?

Excellence can only become sustained if it becomes a habit.  Habits are automatic, the “I don’t even have to think about it behaviors” behaviors that separate you from the rest of your competitors.

Bad habits are tough to break; good habits are equally tough to establish. To guide my retainer and coaching clients into habits of excellence, I coach them HARD to create a short list of:

  1. What must I START doing?
  2. What must I STOP doing?
  3. What must I CONTINUE doing?

With a clear, measurable, and realistic Start/Stop/Continue list PLUS an accountability partner (coach?), you can jumpstart and sustain your journey into excellence.

Principle #3: Excellence is a commitment – not an event.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

One of my favorite keynote and seminar training topics is to teach the difference between motivation and commitment.

Motivation and commitment are not the same.

Motivation satisfies a short-term external want.  A monthly sales contests is a great example.  Sales professionals will perform in an excellence manner over a short time (month) to receive the external want (bonus, trip, new car, etc.).  Yet inevitably the level of sales excellence immediately drops after the contest ends.

Commitment satisfies a long-term internal need. When we uncover and meet the long-term needs of ourselves and our teams (recognition, security, safety, career growth, encouragement, honor, etc.), then long-term excellence is sustainable and well within reach!

As I like to say on stage, “Motivation can jump-start excellence, but commitment is the long-term fuel excellence. ”

“Motivation can jump-start excellence, but commitment is the long-term fuel excellence.”

Fastest Way to Marketplace Impact

Performing your work with excellence is the fastest way to impact your marketplace for the Lord.

Imbed these three principles within your workplace, then get ready to stand before — and influence — marketplace kings!

About Dr. Jim

Dr. Jim Harris is President of The Jim Harris Group, an international speaking and advising firm dedicated to helping believers in business unleash their unfair advantage in the marketplace. He is the author of Our Unfair Advantage: Unleash the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business and numerous other award winning business books.


  • Joe Johnson says:

    Brother Dr. Jim,
    As always, your scripture based insights on the faith based workplace challenge me to START “walking” with even more conviction and commitment to be a proper example of our Purpose, Values and Mission, to STOP allowing “talking” to give the impression that this is who I or our company wants to become “someday” but who we are “today”, and to CONTINUE to accept sound advice and coaching from those who God has chosen to keep me on a path guided by the Holy Spirit!

    • Dr. Jim says:

      Totally on target Joe! You and Tim Embry (American LubeFast) are truly anointed examples of how to transfer your faith into your marketplace for eternal impact. Am humbled to be a part of your journey.

  • Eric Snyder says:

    Slapped me right across the face again Jim!! “Excellence is the MINIMUM standard for today!” While I strive for excellence in everything we do, I honestly NEVER thought of excellence as the minimum standard; and it is!! Thank you for the encouragement to view excellence differently, the minimum standard right NOW.

    • Dr. Jim says:

      This is one of the ways, Eric, believers in business can differentiate from the competition: commune with God on what His excellence looks like in my market, then being led by Holy Spirit to “supersize” His excellence!!! Then and only then will we have the ears of the kings in our industries. #MarketplaceImpact #ConquerYourMountain #SupersizeMyBiz (I will post more on these “how to’s” as we grow together.)

  • It’s going, going, going – that ball is gone out of the park! Summer slumps are not an option for those of us who desire to strive for excellence. Our Lord is worthy of excellence in our worship of Him, especially in the marketplace.

    • Dr. Jim says:

      Great analogy Ricardo. Thanks. (And the “going – going – gone out off the park” reminded me of my high school pitching days – that is EXACTLY what the opposing teams yelled!!!) :-)

  • Dave Patron says:

    Dr. Jim, I just started following your blog. I thoroughly enjoy listening to you speak. I work everyday with my Crew on SMART goals and with myself as well. I have grown as a manager and a husband from listening to you. I look forward to seeing you again.

    • Dr. Jim says:

      Thank you so much Dave. So blessed to read this. Keep pressing forward. #BeLed #SupernaturalLeadership #DiscoverYourDestiny

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